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Archive: Sadahiro (貞廣)

Nakamura Kajûrô I (中村歌十良) as Ishizuka Saichi (石塚左市) in Keisei sakura no honjo (Cherry blossoms at the castle, a courtesan play, けいせい櫻城砦), Kado Theater, Osaka
Gochôtei Sadahiro ga (五蝶亭貞廣画)
No artist seal
Tenki (Tenmaya Kihei: 天満屋喜兵衞)
(H x W)
ôban nishiki-e
37.3 x 25.4 cm
Excellent deluxe edition with metallics
Excellent color, unbacked; very slight grime evident on skin areas
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry (Ref #SDH16)


The plot of the drama Keisei sakura no honjo (Cherry blossoms at the castle, a courtesan play, けいせい櫻城砦) is unknown to us. Given its title and role names, the play was a jidaimono ("period piece," or history play, 時代物). Aside from the character of Ishizuka seen in Sadahiro's print, two other roles in this staging were the daughter (musume) Okaji (娘おかぢ) performed by Nakayama Yoshio III (中山よしを) and Konishi Yukinaga (小西行長 ) performed by Nakamura Shikan III (中村芝翫).

The historical Yukinaga (1558-1600) was the son of a wealthy Sakai merchant who was baptized under the personal name Agostinho (Portuguese for Augustine). He served as a Kirishitan (吉利支丹 or 切支丹 or キリシタン) daimyô (feudal lord, 大名) under Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉 1537-1598). In 1587, during the Invasion of Kyushu, Yukinaga suppressed a local uprising in Higo Province and was awarded a fief in that province. He also led the initial forces under Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the invasion of Korea during the Seven-Year War. He was also noted for his role in the capture of Busan and Seoul and the defensive campaign at Pyongyang. After Hideyoshi's death, Yukinaga was defeated at the Battle of Sekigahara, and captured by the forces of Takenaka Shigekado's (竹中重門 1573-1631). Being a Christian, Yukinaga refused to commit suicide and was executed.

There was an earlier performance of Keisei sakura no honjo at the Onishi Theater, Osaka in the first lunar month of 1787. Both Waseda University (E12-06288-012-031) and the Kunitachi College of Music library (kunTK32-0007 32-0007) have banzuke (theater playbills, 番付) for that staging (listed in KNP-5, p. 48)


This print by Sadahiro is an excellent impression with unusually well-preserved colors. Designs in this condition from this period are scarce.

Note: The ôban-format (370 x 280 mm) was still dominant at this time, although only six months later in 7/1842, the Tenpô kaikaku (Tenpô reforms, 天保改革) would prohibit, among other things, the publication of actor prints. When the industry revived in 1/1847, the prevailing format was the smaller chûban (250 x 180 mm).

References: IKBYS-III, no. 105; KNP-6, pp. 447-448